The Spirit of the Lord - This is found in Isaiah 61:1; but our Lord immediately adds to it Isaiah 42:7. The proclaiming of liberty to the captives, and the acceptable year (or year of acceptance) of the Lord, is a manifest allusion to the proclaiming of the year of jubilee by sound of trumpet: see Leviticus 25:8; (note), etc., and the notes there. This was a year of general release of debts and obligations; of bond-men and women; of lands and possessions, which had been sold from the families and tribes to which they belonged. Our Savior, by applying this text to himself, a text so manifestly relating to the institution above mentioned, plainly declares the typical design of that institution. - Lowth.
He hath anointed me - I have been designed and set apart for this very purpose; my sole business among men is to proclaim glad tidings to the poor, etc. All the functions of this new prophet are exercised on the hearts of men; and the grace by which he works in the heart is a grace of healing, deliverance, and illumination; which, by an admirable virtue, causes them to pass from sickness to health, from slavery to liberty, from darkness to light, and from the lowest degrees of misery to supreme eternal happiness. See Quesnel. To those who feel their spiritual poverty, whose hearts are broken through a sense of their sins, who see themselves tied and bound with the chains of many evil habits, who sit in the darkness of guilt and misery, without a friendly hand to lead them in the way in which they should go - to these, the Gospel of the grace of Christ is a pleasing sound, because a present and full salvation is proclaimed by it; and the present is shown to be the acceptable year of the Lord; the year, the time, in which he saves to the uttermost all who come unto him in the name of his Son Jesus. Reader! what dost thou feel? Sin-wretchedness-misery of every description? Then come to Jesus - He will save Thee - he came into the world for this very purpose. Cast thy soul upon him, and thou shalt not perish, but have everlasting life.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me - Or, I speak by divine appointment. I am divinely inspired to speak. There can be no doubt that the passage in Isaiah had a principal reference to the Messiah. Our Saviour directly applies it to himself, and it is not easily applicable to any other prophet. Its first application might have been to the restoration of the Jews from Babylon; but the language of prophecy is often applicable to two similar events, and the secondary event is often the most important. In this case the prophet uses most striking poetic images to depict the return from Babylon, but the same images also describe the appropriate work of the Son of God.
Hath anointed me - Anciently kings and prophets and the high priest were set apart to their work by anointing with oil, 1 Kings 19:15-16; Exodus 29:7; 1 Samuel 9:16, etc. This oil or ointment was made of various substances, and it was forbidden to imitate it, Exodus 30:34-38. Hence, those who were set apart to the work of God as king, prophet, or priest, were called the Lord‘s anointed, 1 Samuel 16:6; Psalm 84:9; Isaiah 45:1. Hence, the Son of God is called the “Messiah,” a Hebrew word signifying the “Anointed,” or the “Christ,” a Greek word signifying the same thing. And by his being “anointed” is not meant that he was literally anointed, for he was never set apart in that manner, but that “God had set him apart” for this work; that “he” had constituted or appointed him to be the prophet, priest, and king of his people. See the notes at Matthew 1:1.
To preach the gospel to the poor - The English word “gospel” is derived from two words - “God” or “good,” and “spell,” an old Saxon word meaning “history, relation, narration, word, or speech,” and the word therefore means “a good communication” or “message.” This corresponds exactly with the meaning of the Greek word - “a good or joyful message - glad tidings.” By the “poor” are meant all those who are destitute of the comforts of this life, and who therefore may be more readily disposed to seek treasures in heaven; all those who are sensible of their sins, or are poor in spirit Matthew 5:3; and all the “miserable” and the afflicted, Isaiah 58:7. Our Saviour gave it as one proof that he was the Messiah, or was from God, that he preached to “the poor,” Matthew 11:5. The Pharisees and Sadducees despised the poor; ancient philosophers neglected them; but the gospel seeks to bless them - to give comfort where it is felt to be needed, and where it will be received with gratitude. Riches fill the mind with pride, with self-complacency, and with a feeling that the gospel is not needed. The poor “feel” their need of some sources of comfort that the world cannot give, and accordingly our Saviour met with his greatest success the gospel among the poor; and there also, “since,” the gospel has shed its richest blessings and its purest joys. It is also one proof that the gospel is true. If it had been of “men,” it would have sought the rich and mighty; but it pours contempt on all human greatness, and seeks, like God, to do good to those whom the world overlooks or despises. See the notes at 1 Corinthians 1:26.
To heal the brokenhearted - To console those who are deeply afflicted, or whose hearts are “broken” by external calamities or by a sense of their sinfulness.
Deliverance to the captives - This is a figure originally applicable to those who were in captivity in Babylon. They were miserable. To grant deliverance to “them” and restore them to their country - to grant deliverance to those who are in prison and restore them to their families - to give liberty to the slave and restore him to freedom, was to confer the highest benefit and impart the richest favor. In this manner the gospel imparts favor. It does not, indeed, “literally” open the doors of prisons, but it releases the mind captive under sin; it gives comfort to the prisoner, and it will finally open all prison doors and break off all the chains of slavery, and, by preventing “crime,” prevent also the sufferings that are the consequence of crime.
To set at liberty them that are bruised - The word “bruised,” here, evidently has the same “general” signification as “brokenhearted” or the contrite. It means those who are “pressed down” by great calamity, or whose hearts are “pressed” or “bruised” by the consciousness of sin. To set them “at liberty” is the same as to free them from this pressure, or to give them consolation.
The Saviour came “to preach the gospel to the poor.” Luke 4:18. In His teaching He used the simplest terms and the plainest symbols. And it is said that “the common people heard Him gladly.” Mark 12:37. Those who are seeking to do His work for this time need a deeper insight into the lessons He has given. MH 443.1
The words of the living God are the highest of all education. Those who minister to the people need to eat of the bread of life. This will give them spiritual strength; then they will be prepared to minister to all classes of people. MH 443.2Read in context »
For three years the Lord of light and glory had gone in and out among His people. He “went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil,” binding up the brokenhearted, setting at liberty them that were bound, restoring sight to the blind, causing the lame to walk and the deaf to hear, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, and preaching the gospel to the poor. Acts 10:38; Luke 4:18; Matthew 11:5. To all classes alike was addressed the gracious call: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. GC 20.1
Though rewarded with evil for good, and hatred for His love (Psalm 109:5), He had steadfastly pursued His mission of mercy. Never were those repelled that sought His grace. A homeless wanderer, reproach and penury His daily lot, He lived to minister to the needs and lighten the woes of men, to plead with them to accept the gift of life. The waves of mercy, beaten back by those stubborn hearts, returned in a stronger tide of pitying, inexpressible love. But Israel had turned from her best Friend and only Helper. The pleadings of His love had been despised, His counsels spurned, His warnings ridiculed. GC 20.2
The hour of hope and pardon was fast passing; the cup of God's long-deferred wrath was almost full. The cloud that had been gathering through ages of apostasy and rebellion, now black with woe, was about to burst upon a guilty people; and He who alone could save them from their impending fate had been slighted, abused, rejected, and was soon to be crucified. When Christ should hang upon the cross of Calvary, Israel's day as a nation favored and blessed of God would be ended. The loss of even one soul is a calamity infinitely outweighing the gains and treasures of a world; but as Christ looked upon Jerusalem, the doom of a whole city, a whole nation, was before Him—that city, that nation, which had once been the chosen of God, His peculiar treasure. GC 20.3Read in context »
The Son of God came from heaven to make manifest the Father. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” John 1:18. “Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” Matthew 11:27. When one of the disciples made the request, “Show us the Father,” Jesus answered, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?” John 14:8, 9. SC 11.1
In describing His earthly mission, Jesus said, The Lord “hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” Luke 4:18. This was His work. He went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by Satan. There were whole villages where there was not a moan of sickness in any house, for He had passed through them and healed all their sick. His work gave evidence of His divine anointing. Love, mercy, and compassion were revealed in every act of His life; His heart went out in tender sympathy to the children of men. He took man's nature, that He might reach man's wants. The poorest and humblest were not afraid to approach Him. Even little children were attracted to Him. They loved to climb upon His knees and gaze into the pensive face, benignant with love. SC 11.2
Jesus did not suppress one word of truth, but He uttered it always in love. He exercised the greatest tact and thoughtful, kind attention in His relationships with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He spoke the truth, but always in love. He denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity; but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. He wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, which refused to receive Him, the way, the truth, and the life. They had rejected Him, the Saviour, but He regarded them with pitying tenderness. His life was one of self-denial and thoughtful care for others. Every soul was precious in His eyes. While He ever bore Himself with divine dignity, He bowed with the tenderest regard to every member of the family of God. In all men He saw fallen souls whom it was His mission to save. SC 12.1Read in context »
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16.
A Large Work Before Our Churches—There is a work to be done by our churches that few have any idea of.... We shall have to give of our means to support laborers in the harvest field, and we shall rejoice in the sheaves gathered in. But while this is right, there is a work, as yet untouched, that must be done. The mission of Christ was to heal the sick, encourage the hopeless, bind up the brokenhearted. This work of restoration is to be carried on among the needy suffering ones of humanity. WM 71.1Read in context »